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JSC delays misconduct hearing against judge

By Daniel Chege | December 8th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Narok Environment and Lands Court Judge Mohammed Kullow. An Investor wants the judge investigated for ordering the destruction of a camp worth Sh200 million near Maasai Mara game reserve. [File, Standard]

The hearing of a case in which a judge has been accused of misconduct over his ruling that saw a Sh200 million luxury camp in the Mara demolished has been delayed by two weeks.

A panel appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to investigate Narok Environment and Lands Court Judge Mohammed Kullow said Monday’s decision was meant to allow the defence lawyer to file a reply to a supplementary affidavit by the complainant.

Uwe Heerdes, the owner of Mara Rafiki Camp located in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, has accused Justice Kullow of illegally ordering the demolition of his property.

The applicant, through lawyer Kipkoech Ngetich, told the panel chaired by Macharia Njeru that he has lined up two witnesses to testify against Justice Kullow.

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Other members of the panel are JSC commissioners David Majanja, Olive Mugenda and Felix Koskei.

“We will have two witnesses, including the complainant testifying in the case. We urge the commission to give the case priority so we can conclude the matter in time,” said Ngetich. The other witness, according to the lawyer, is one Gideon Kimahai.

Njeru, who was presiding over the hearing on Monday allowed an application by Kullow’s lawyer Ogutu Mboya, who wanted the case delayed by seven days to allow him to respond to Ngetich’s supplementary affidavit.

Ngetich opposed Ogutu’s application complaining that the matter had been deferred many times due to what he termed excuses by the defence team.

“We hope the seven days prayed for will be enough for my learned colleague to file his documents,” said Ngetich.

Njeru directed Ogutu to file and serve the documents within seven days and for Ngetich to reply within seven days of service.

“The parties have 15 days to file and serve documents and signed witness statements. The commission will only admit signed statements,” said Njeru.

Njeru said for the matter to be concluded on time, the commission will admit written witness statements and then subject the witnesses to cross-examination.

“To save time, witnesses will not testify orally. They will only be subjected to cross-examination on their filed statements,” he said.

Those expected to testify in favour of Justice Kullow are lawyers Eric Ochieng and Moses Chelanga, Timothy Juma, who is the clerk of the court and the judge’s secretary Caroline Karuga as well as Julius Kemboi.

Ogutu said the judge will lead the defence team in giving his testimony.

Heerdes, the director of Mara Rafiki Camp, petitioned JSC to investigate Kullow’s conduct after his decision.

He accuses Kullow of misusing his powers to order the destruction of the camp while aware that a court of similar jurisdiction had temporarily stayed the execution. The order saw the destruction of the camp valued at Sh221,310,201 on December 22, 2017.

Kullow opposed the application saying the complaint was outside his jurisdiction and he was thus not liable. The judge also accused Heerdes of instituting an invalid complaint before the commission in an attempt to embarrass him.

Ngetich said he has already filed all their signed witness statements before the JSC.

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